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Ages & Stages

Tanning and Tanning Salon Safety Tips for Young People

Many young people want to get tanned during the warmer months because they perceive that having a tan is a popular thing to do. That doesn't mean it's a healthy thing to do. While sunlight can be damaging to the skin, artificial sunlight in tanning salons can be particularly dangerous.

Teens and Tanning: Safety Information

  • Many teens and young women go to tanning salons.  The UV radiation from tanning salons raises a person's risk of developing skin cancer, including melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer.  Tanning salons are not safe.  Teens and others should not use tanning salons.

  • The AAP supports legislation prohibiting access to tanning salons or use of artificial tanning devices by children under 18 years of age.

  • An alternative to tanning bed is sunless tanners. Sunless tanners use dihydroxyacetone (DHA), a chemical that reacts with amino acids in the stratum corneum (the top layer of skin) to form brown-black compounds, melanoidins, which deposit in skin.

  • DHA-containing tanning preparations may be applied to the consumer's bare skin by misters at sunless tanning booths. Bronzers are water-soluble dyes that temporarily stain the skin. Bronzers are easily removed with soap and water.

  • Because neither DHA nor melanoidins afford any significant UVR protection, consumers must be advised that sunburn and sun damage may occur unless they use sunscreen and other sun protection methods.

  • Consumers must also be warned that any sunless products containing added sunscreen provide UVR protection during a few hours after application and that additional sun protection must be used during the duration of the artificial tan.

  • The best advice for young people about tanning is that it is probably healthier to "love the skin you're in" rather than seeking a darker look.

Additional Information:

Last Updated
American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2018)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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